Not the Right Time for Another School Bond

The phrase “Advice not sought is seldom heeded” came to mind when I read that, during the Antioch Unified School District board’s discussion as to whether or not to put a bond measure authorizing a property tax to modernize Antioch High School on next June’s ballot, board vice president Claire Smith stated, in regard to surveying residents prior to doing so, “I don’t know if a poll would be really relevant. The need at Antioch High is so great that we have to try it.“

Has the Board, which makes policy, approves district budgets and adopts curriculum, given up reading newspapers and watching TV. People are “occupying” Wall Street, and other streets around the country, including Lone Tree Way in front of Deer Valley High, protesting the lack of jobs (Contra Costa County’s unemployment remains over 10%), loss of homes through foreclosure and a stagnant economy which is negatively impacting most of the population. (The Public Policy Institute of CA conducted a poll last month and 67% of respondents stated that jobs and the economy are their prime concern.)

Now is definitely not the time for the school district to attempt to push a second bond measure costing residents in the city’s non Mello Roos Districts an annual parcel tax of between $50 and $55 per $100,000 of accessed property value which would increase each year for the life of the bond.

The very same residents are still impacted by the district’s 2008 $61,600.00 bond measure to fund improvements at older non Mello-Roos schools. That one was cleverly structured as a school facilities improvement district (SFID) which is similar to a Mello-Roos district, the only difference being that, although both Mello-Roos and SFID district property owners are assessed a parcel tax to pay off the bonds, it takes 2/3 vote to pass a Mello Roos tax but only 55% voter approval for a SFID district tax.

According to Board member Walter Ruehling, the parcel tax measure hasn’t been voted on – so far it’s merely a discussion but if it does go, it would again only need 55% voter approval to pass. He stated that he’ll bring up the subject of an exemption for senior citizens which was not done in the prior bond measure.

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